Anton Nemanich Letters

Anton Nemanich, 1910

All letters in this selection were written by Janez Nemanich of Lokvica in the Metlika region of Slovenia to his brother Anton Nemanich who at the time of receipt of these letters resided in Joliet, Illinois.

According to Joe Nemanich, his son, Anton Nemanich immigrated to the United States from Slovenia (then within the Austrian part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) in about 1882, then went to Iowa with an uncle who had taken up a homestead. He stayed there for two years, helping to clear the land, then returned to Chicago, at a time when there were "only five" Slovenes in the city, all of whom lived with the Bohemians. Like the other four, Nemanich married a Bohemian woman, then moved to Joliet in 1891. He moved back to Chicago the next year to open a tavern, hoping to profit from the business brought there by the World's Fair. He did not see much success, but returned to Joliet in 1893 and reopened a tavern. Later on his business expanded to include a butcher shop, a grocery store, a livery stable and a funeral home, practically all phases of it being conducted on the residential lot which he owned beside the church. Eventually he served as president of the Grand Carniolian Slovenian Catholic Union. Ivan Molek in his "Slovene Immigrant History" states that the local newspapers in Joliet would sometimes describe Anton Nemanich as the "King of the Austrians."